I was visiting my parents in Florida over Christmas break and helped my mother clean out a closet of photographs, slides, and 8mm movies. The 8 mm movies posed an interesting challenge. The oldest were made between 1952 and 1956 when we were stationed in Pretoria, South Africa (my father was a crewman on the American Embassy’s C-47). I was wondering what to do with the 8mm movies when our Media Center director mentioned Lost in Light as a possible solution. I looked them up and found a really nifty project that satisfies my needs on several levels. First of all, here is what they say about Lost in Light:
This is a project about the 8mm film format. But 8mm is dead, you say? On the contrary! Not only is the format alive with innovation by filmmakers around the world, but hours and hours of Super 8 and regular 8mm film exist in attics and basements the world over—as home movies, educational films, works of art—that is slowly fading from the historical record.
We’re here to preserve that record before these films are lost, and to make those films available for viewing by the public and for use by artists seeking new, compelling footage. Lost in Light is a project devoted to preserving, showcasing, and celebrating films created on the small-gauge 8mm film format.
To that end, we provide free Super 8 and 8mm to video transfers to anyone who asks, in exchange for posting their video to the Lost in Light site and on the Internet Archive with their choice of Creative Commons licenses. In addition, Lost in Light includes articles and features by members of the filmmaking and film preservation communities, video tutorials for making 8mm films, as well as creative work, all with the goal of preserving and championing this important film format.
Note the bit where all they ask is permission to post the transfers on the Lost in Light site and on Internet Archives with some level of Creative Commons license. These are the CC licenses if you are interested. I sent Aaron and Jennifer an inquiry email and when they indicated interest, I boxed up the movies and sent them off.
You might be thinking, You mean anyone can see these movies and film makers could use segments in their own works? Why would you want that? Three reasons, really. First, I get a DVD of these movies, some of which haven’t been seen for 50 years. Ok, the world might get to see me and my brother as goofy kids. So what? I’m pretty sure there are none of me running around naked or eating boogers. Second, it is a kind of immortality. Something my father did will live on. Third, maybe the videos will help a young film maker. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen done by W&M students in the short time that our Media Center has been in operation and I think that a project like Lost in Light and a willingness to share using the Creative Commons licenses are important for the creative process.
I got an email earlier that the film transfers are complete. You can see a bit on their home page, Lost in Light. The African dance sequence was filmed at the mine dances near Pretoria. I’m still researching it, but as I recall, the mine workers would put on these dances on a day off from work.
Aaron and Jennifer are doing cool and good things. Check it out.